An Analysis of the Spring-to-Summer Transition in the West Central Plains for Application to Long Range Forecasting
The spring-to-summer transition is of special importance in long range forecasting, as the general circulation transitions to a less energetic regime. This affects the Midwestern United States in a profound way, since agriculture is very sensitive to the variability of weather and climate. Beginning at the local scale, surface temperature observations are used from a representative station in the West Central Missouri Plains region in order to identify the shift from late spring to early summer. Using upper-air re-analyses as a supplement, the 500-mb height observations are examined to find a spring-to-summer transition date by tracking the location of a representative contour. Each of these is used to identify spring-to-summer transition date and then statistical analysis is performed on this long-term data set. Finally, teleconnections, specifically the influence of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and blocking are examined in order to quantify interannual variability. It was found that examining these criteria, developed in an earlier study that covered a much shorter time period, produced similar statistics to this 68-year study of spring-to-summer transitions. It was also found that the onset of La Niña was associated with hotter summers in the region, a result first found in the earlier study, but this association in much stronger here.